I am, by nature, a trusting soul.
I am becoming less so.
I don't yet see terrorists and drug dealers under the bed, but I am aware of them in the shadows of the streets.
Today, I was walking along a road in our usually quiet village, on my way to where Donna-Lane had a doctor follow-up visit.
A dark car swung off the road, and I assumed they were going to park. Instead, the driver, a woman in her late 20s perhaps, stopped alongside me and was asking me something.
In my trusting soul mode, I moved closer to the car to try to understand what she was saying. She seemed to be looking for a location, a street or a business. But with my limited hearing and limited French, I couldn't pick up her rapid-fire French. I probably had no idea of the location she sought even if I could understand her. It was pointless to have even listened to her question, except to try to be polite, rather than ignoring her and keep on walking.
Seated next to her was a young man, perhaps 15 or 16, dark complected, possibly of Arabic heritage, wearing a hooded sweatshirt. He didn't look sullen but he didn't look friendly either.
After I'd told them I didn't know of the place they were seeking, and they drove off, I thought about what might have happened in view of recent events like the murders by truck in Nice or the random street shootings in Phoenix. The woman or teen might have had a gun and shot me. Or since guns are much harder to obtain in France, they might have jumped out of the car and slashed me with a knife. (There was no one else on the street that I had noticed.) Or they might have had an accomplice stuff me in the trunk to kidnap me for ransom -- good luck with that, given my bank account -- or just to kill me because I'm a Western white guy and automatically the enemy.
It probably would not have mattered to them that we buy our meat from the two Halal butchers in town. Or that we are friends with a wonderful artist from Morocco. And with a former Ambassador to the US from a Middle Eastern country. Or that one of our dearest "family of choice" is a couple from Syria.
I don't like the feelings of suspicion. I prefer to take people at face value until they prove otherwise.
I don't like to think about maybe carrying a knife as self-defence when walking around the streets (Swiss Army, of course). In London, I stuck a metal nail file in my pocket as we headed to the theatre district after dark.
I have never been inclined to own a gun -- too dangerous with children or grandchildren around. Though I wouldn't mind have a taser handy. My best defence is probably a golf club -- that I know how to use, and it could do serious damage to a kneecap!
Wonder what people would think if I "openly carried" a sand wedge on the streets?